Own My Growth

Helping folks with practical tips to manage themselves better

Self Determination Theory

Self Determination Theory

One of my mentees has recently become a first-time manager, leading a five member team.

He reached out to me seeking advice on what he must focus on to be a good leader/manager.

Instead of answering the question straight away, I asked him, “tell me, when did you feel most enthusiastic and energized being in a team setting?”

My young friend, who is very smart, had a simple answer ” I have always felt the best when I am doing work that feels significant, and I am given the freedom to do it without anyone breathing down my neck.”

Unknowingly, he was sharing with me the holy trinity of the Self determination theory, which refers to every person’s ability to make choices and manage their own life.

Self-determination allows people to feel that they have control over their choices and lives. When people feel like they have high self-determination, they tend to be more motivated and engaged.

Self-determination theory suggests that people feel motivated and engaged when these three psychological needs are met.

  • You Have Autonomy: When you have autonomy, you feel in control of your own actions and goals. You feel like you have the freedom to do what you want to in the way you want to without being buttonholed and directed at every stage.
  • Feel Competent: You feel competent when you are challenged to deliver to the best of your skills. When you feel like you have the skills needed to do some tasks, you are more likely to take actions that will help you go after your goals. In the process of doing this repeatedly, you experience mastery and growth.
  • Feel Connected: When you operate in a work setting where you feel you belong, feel valued and respected, you feel positive and engaged. You also develop a sense of bonding with people within the organization.  

As a young leader, give your team autonomy, challenge them to improve their skills, and create a safe space for them to feel like they belong. If you can take care of these three needs of your team, you are well on your way to becoming an effective leader. 

This was the gist of what I shared with my young friend.

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